How to Create a Recipe: First Steps
Each beer come from a recipe.
The creation of a recipe has two main aspects, the sensorial and the mathematical. In fact, we must take into account the olfactory and gustatory characteristics that we want to impart in our beer, on the other hand we must take into account the efficiency of extraction, conversion, pH and other more rational aspects that are essential for the success of the brewing process.
Before the recipe development programs were created, the brewer had to deal with several formulas when creating his own recipe: to calculate the quantities of malt to use to obtain the right OG and color, to estimate IBUs, to predict mash pH, to calculate additions of all other ingredients. Few home brewers do the math nowadays, in fact most brewers use a program to perform the mathematical part of developing a recipe. All that remains is to add the creativity of the brewer.
To create a recipe, you have to start with the choice of the beer you want to produce: start visualizing it in your mind, with all its sensory characteristics. This idea can arise from a beer you've already drunk, from a particular inspiration, or from curiosity about a style you haven't tried yet. The first thing to do is therefore to consult the description of the style on the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program). On this site you can find the description of what the style looks like from a sensorial point of view (appearance, smell, taste), and the most common ingredients used. Use the values suggested by the BJCP (OG, FG, IBU, EBC), and start defining the flavor and sensory characteristics. Sample some examples of this style if you can.
The next step is to identify the ingredients and production techniques that allow you to obtain the desired result. Experience plays the most important role at this stage. To know the different types of malts, hops, yeasts, spices, and the process variables, water profile, etc. for this reason, obtaining the desired result is difficult. The first few times you can help you with information you find on the internet or in books. If you want to reproduce a particular style, it can be a valid approach to use the raw materials of the area where that style was born.
Collect all the information you consider useful and important and create the recipe based on your experience. It is normal that the first batches may not be appreciated, and it will be necessary to try again. Always write down all the steps and the results obtained, so you will be able to improve.
The next important step is to analyze the beer. After the drafting of the recipe and after the production of the beer there is the tasting. It's impossible to understand how to improve your beer if you are unable to evaluate it.
It's by learning about the ingredients and arranging the recipe with several attempts that you will be able to get close to the desired result. The road to creating the "perfect" beer recipe is challenging but the path you will take before you get there will be necessary to learn and increase your brewing culture.